The Plains Bison Hunt

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The Red River Métis began their organised bison hunts soon after 1820 (Gerhard, 1982). The hunts did not take long to become a major part of the Métis culture and heritage. This would end up being a major source of income for many decades. As the ice age glaciers started to melt, the bison and other animals started moving onto the plains, the Métis then used this migration to their advantage and started hunting them (Gerhard, 1982). Some First Nations, particularly the Dakota and Assiniboine, relied primarily on the bison, utilizing every part of the body and carcass (Gerhard, 1982). As well as others, like the Ojibwa and Cree, used bison to complement more diversified hunter-gatherer lifestyles (Gerhard, 1982).

Figure 1. A Métis hunter.

(Sheppard software, 2012)

The Hunt in Planning

There were two organized hunts every year: a large one in summer and a small one in fall (Gerhard, 1982). For days before a hunt the Red River Settlement would shut down as preparations for the hunt were under way (Gerhard, 1982). After everyone was gathered the rules and regulations for the hunt were laid down with solemnity – and woe betide him who broke these rules, for they were taken very seriously (Gerhard, 1982).

The Métis had a specific means of getting bison when they entered the hunt, which was called "running the herd” (Préfontaine & Young, 2003). Once a herd was located by the Métis, they would slowly ride towards the herd which would remain calm when they were approached quietly, then herding the herd together, once the signal was made, the hunters would charge, causing a stampede (Préfontaine & Young, 2003). The hunters would ride through the herd, selecting and shooting prime bison cows, those that were goo...

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...ontaine & Young, 2003).

Works Cited

Young P, Prefontaine D. 2003. “Bison Hunting.” The Virtual Museum of Métis History and

Culture. March 28 2012.

Brehaut, Harry B. “The Red River Cart and Trails: The Fur Trade.” 1971-2. Manitoba Historical Society.. Accessed March 28 2012.

Giannetta J. 2002. “The Bison Hunt.” Plains First Nations and the Bison. Accessed March 29 2012.

Unknown, A. “The Bison Hunt” pdf download.

cms/expositionsexhibitions/batoche/docs/proof_en_buffalo_hunt.pdf Accessed March 29, 2012.

Software, Sheppard. “ photo”

Accessed March 29, 2012
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